Update (2023) by ART:
Kaminogōjō was originally built by Udono Nagayoshi in the late 15th century, and subsequent lords were Udono Nagatoku, Udono Nagamochi, and Udono Nagateru. The Udono were originally vassals of the Imagawa Clan, but following the Imagawa loss to Oda Nobunaga at the battle of Okehazama (1560), the clan was split into two factions. The Kaminogōjō faction continued to support the Imagawa, but the Udono at Shimonogōjō to the south switched their allegiance to the Matsudaira. This led to conflict between the two factions, with the latter backed by their Matsudaira allies. Kaminogōjō was then besieged. Although it repelled an initial attack, it was conquered by Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu) in 1562. To take Kaminogōjō, Motoyasu took up position on a mountain to the north of the fort, and, it is said, used shinobi to set fire to the castle from within, causing a panic in which the fort was captured.
A victorious Matsudaira Motoyasu placed Hisamatsu Nagaie, his father-in-law, in charge of Kaminogōjō. In 1590 following the relocation of Tokugawa Ieyasu - along with his entire franchise - to Kantō, Toyotomi Hideyoshi gave Kaminogōjō to Ikeda Terumasa, but it seems to have been abandoned before the Edo period.
Although ruins only exist on the hillside these days, at its peak Kaminogōjō appears to have been a true hirayamajiro (flatland-plus-hilltop castle) with mizubori (water moats) ensconcing a lower outer bailey, remnants of which may include the waterways and oblong ponds which are found in the neighbourhood.
Original (2022) history by Chris Glenn:
Kaminogo Jo in Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture has an interesting history, as it is the site of a successful ninja operation! The story goes that in 1562, some family members (possibly a daughter?) of Ieyasu were being held hostage in the Imagawa held Kaminogo and Hattori Hanzō and about six ninja rescued them. One evening, dressed in samurai garb, they approached the castle gates carrying an andon lantern with the castle lords’ crest on it. The guards recognized the crest and opened the gates without question allowing the small ninja group to penetrate the fortress before splitting up and starting fires in various areas. In the panic that ensued, they managed to rescue the hostages and easily escape alongside the panicked castle inhabitants.
Update (2023) by ART:
Kaminogōjō is a hilltop fort site in Gamagôri Municipality. The site features earthworks such as dorui (earthen ramparts) and kuruwa (baileys). The main bailey is made from the flattened hilltop and is quite large; large enough to accomodate a residence or barracks. The rest of the hillside is terraced into various baileys and sub-baileys, including the second bailey and eastern bailey. The second bailey is surrounded by thick dorui, and the entrance is a koguchi ('tiger maw') complex with a dobashi (earthen bridge) with karabori (dry moats) either side. A stone marker for the castle can be found atop of the dorui overlooking the koguchi. The dorui appears to climb onto another earthen platform, on which I found a hidden hokora (mini-shrine).
Approaching the main bailey one finds an angled bend which is another koguchi ruin. There is some ishigaki (stone retaining wall) here, and it looks old, but it's doubtful that it's 16th century. The main bailey has a large sign ontop proclaiming the castle site. Some explanatory boards can also be found alongside views of the town. Here is where the residence of the lord was located.
Much of Kaminogōjō is now private property used as mikan orchards* (a famous product of Gamagôri), making a full exploration not possible, but there is enough to see to warrant a castle-explorer's attention. I would highly recommend stopping by the Gamagôri Seibu Community Centre where there is a small display for the castle centred around a really fetching model of what it was like back in its day. I had a nice chat with the gentleman manning the hall.
- 'Mikan' is a Japanese citrus fruit like a small orange. There are many variants of such fruits, and they appear to be named for whence they come: tangerines (Tangiers, Morocco), mandarins (China), and satsuma (Japan). 'Satsuma' is a province in Japan. Where I'm from (Norf uv Inglund) we'd probably call a mikan a 'satsuma (sat-soo-maa)'.
Gallery photos and ninja anecdote submitted by Chris Glenn (2022). Updated by ART (2023).
For more information on the related site of Kamakata Castle / Shimonogou Castle, see the profile on Kamakata Jin'ya.
|Local Historic Site
|Pre Edo Period
|Dorui, Kuruwa, Hori, Wells
|Gamagōri Station on the Tōkaidō Line; 30 minute walk
|24/7 free; mountain
|Gamagōri, Aichi Prefecture
|34° 50' 31.99" N, 137° 13' 30.58" E
|Added to Jcastle
|Admin Year Visited
|Friends of JCastle
|Jōkaku Shashin Kiroku